British Science Fiction Association
|Predecessor||Science Fiction Association (SFA)|
|Purpose||An organisation of readers, authors, booksellers & publishers for the appreciation and promotion of science fiction in every form.|
The British Science Fiction Association was founded in 1958 by a group of British science fiction fans, authors, publishers and booksellers, in order to encourage science fiction in every form. It is an open membership organisation costing £29 per year for UK residents and £20 for the unwaged. The first president of the BSFA was Brian Aldiss. Stephen Baxter is the current President. The BSFA currently publishes two magazines, sent to all members:
- Vector - This is the reviews and criticism journal of the BSFA. Published six times a year.
- Focus - This is the BSFA's writers magazine. Published twice a year.
Matrix was the news magazine, but ceased publication.
The BSFA Awards are presented annually by the British Science Fiction Association, based on a vote of BSFA members and members of the British national SF convention (Eastercon). The BSFA also nominates two members to the panel of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
The BSFA was the fourth attempt to set up a national organisation of science fiction fans in Britain. The first, the Science Fiction Association (SFA), was set up in 1937 by fans who attended the first British science fiction convention in Leeds in May of that year and was "devoted to the stimulation of interest in science fiction and scientific progress", but it had to be disbanded on the outbreak of the Second World War barely two years later. The second attempt was the British Fantasy Society (which has no connection with the present organisation of the same name, which is a 1971 offshoot of the BSFA), which was established in June 1942 by many of the people behind the SFA with the objective of giving members (who numbered nearly one hundred) better access to science fiction through its extensive library. The BFS did not long survive the war, being wound-up in November 1946. In 1948 Captain Ken Slater, who ran "Operation Fantast" - a trading operation which bought and swapped books and magazines - proposed the founding of a new national fan organisation, and thus the Science Fantasy Society was born. Unfortunately Slater was later posted to the army in Germany and the remaining committee members did not share his "flaming enthusiasm" for the organisation; in September 1951 the SFS was declared to be "a glorious flop".
By the late 1950s, British science fiction fandom was in serious decline. The annual Eastercon had become a purely social event with a rapidly diminishing attendance (150 in 1954, 115 in 1955, 80 in 1956, fewer than 50 in 1958). Spurred by this, the 1958 Eastercon held in Kettering held a discussion on the whole future of British fandom. It was agreed that both British fanzines and science fiction conventions had become inward-looking and had moved so far away from science fiction that they were not attractive to newcomers, and there were no routes in to British fandom anyway. It was decided that the only way forward was a new national organisation devoted to the serious study of science fiction but also carrying material in its publication about fandom, so that newcomers could go on to more personal involvement in fandom. After considerable debate on the name ("science fiction" being considered a stigma in dealing with the Press), the BSFA was formed and had over 100 members by its first anniversary.
- Weston, Peter: "Behind the Scenes: Origins", Vector #250, November/December 2006.